U.S. Air Force Veteran Luis Montero wasn’t on campus for his nursing program at West Coast University-Ontario before the pandemic struck in early 2020. But the father of one found other ways to engage the student (and veteran population) once in-person gatherings paused: Luis and other classmates joined the WCU Student Veterans Association.
“We couldn’t do as much at first in the pandemic but we set up a card drive to get out cards to veterans at the VA in Loma Linda,” Luis shared. “We also set up a book library on campus specifically to aid veteran students who need to borrow books for classes and we recently set up an event at Riverside National Cemetery to plant flags during Memorial Day.”
Luis is passionate about helping fellow veteran students navigate the complexities of the GI bill® and said that is one of the reasons he wanted to get involved with the campus club.
“We wanted to set up the Veteran’s Association on campus to help provide information about how GI benefits work and support veteran students,” Luis said. “We have to support each other to ensure veterans are aware of how that system works and how the number of units you’re enrolled in can affect your GI Bill® pay.”
Prior to WCU, he served as a dental technician during his six years in the Air Force.
“When I was stationed in Alaska, I had the opportunity to work alongside great OR and PACU nurses coordinating surgeries in the oral surgery clinic and it was eye-opening and the biggest motivator to get into nursing,” Luis said.
Although Luis isn’t committing to one specialty within nursing yet, he shared that he sees himself working in” high intense situations like trauma and the emergency room” and going back for his master’s degree so he can teach.
“The opportunities are endless and there are a variety of things that I want to get into,” Luis said. “I enjoy learning and don’t want to settle for one thing. I take the opportunities where they come.”
Luis’ biggest advice for new students is to build a network with like-minded individuals to support each other through the program and to prioritize their own mental health.
“Seek help when you need it whether in school or the mental health aspect,” he said. “Reach out to a friend, utilize WCU’s new mental health program. You don’t want to lose sight of that because it will help get you through whatever obstacle you may be facing.”
WCU cannot guarantee employment. Programs vary by campus. The views and opinions expressed are those of the individuals and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs or position of the school or of any instructor or student.